When I was young, society, media and even my parents taught me that I would only ever be complete if I found a partner and fell in love. I would have someone to take care me, live with me happily ever after. I was taught that if I found that one person, I would never need anyone else. If I loved that person enough, I would never have any emotional/physical attraction to anyone but them. That if I did wish to persue a physical connection or feel an emotional attachment besides my partner, I was a terrible person. I should have each and every one of my needs met by my one partner. Seeking to have those needs met, whether I meant to or not, was me being unfaithful. It implies that I don’t love my partner.
Because these beliefs were ingrained in my brain, I constantly questioned what was wrong with me. Why is it that with almost every partner, I couldn’t remain happy being faithful to them? Was I destined to never be complete? Do I just get bored easily? Was I the problem?
I must be.
It wasn’t until after my longest relationship (7 years) that I swore off having a partner all together. At least a partner with any sort of label.
One of the people I was seeing after my marriage ended was slightly more serious than other romantic interests I was involved with. I was scared because I felt for him more than I wanted to. I was very clear that I didn’t want to be serious. I set up a wall of boundaries and explained over and over that I couldn’t go through that type of heartbreak again. He was extremely understanding. Never pushed the subject or begged for a label. Looking back, I think I constantly brought that up to him because I was subconsciously trying to convince myself of these things.
I had a lot of fears surrounding having a relationship after my marriage. The biggest fear was for my daughter. She never saw anyone be remotely romantic towards me besides her father. I wanted to keep it that way, so, this is a boundary that I made very clear to anyone I had romantic interest in. I didn’t want her to be attached to someone who might not be around for her. I also never wanted her to feel as though I would choose a romantic partner over her. If she was not treated with respect, if she was treated as a nuisance to be around, I had absolutely no interest in perusing any relationship. She comes first. (Fast forward to now, her and my partner are making a pillow fort in the living room while I’m writing this so it’s safe to say that fear has subsided).
My second fear was for myself:
How is it that I could love someone so hard, for so long, and then have the relationship crumble so magnificently in only 7 years. The things we admired most about each other turned into small annoyances. The small annoyances turned into explosive arguments. I couldn’t go through that again. I didn’t want to be the one to ruin the connection my current partner and I had. I was terrified of codependance.
That’s when I discovered Polyamory. The idea that you can have emotional and physical relationships with more than one person. That you can love more than one individual without feeling any less love for your partner. We don’t have to choose to love one parent more than the other. We don’t have to choose to love one child, sibling or pet more than the other. Then why should we have to do that with romantic prospects?
So now that you have some background, these are the 4 reasons why (In no particular order) I love Polyamory:
1. My needs are constantly met and so are my partners
I have major anxiety and depression. Some of it comes from childhood environment. Some if it came from relationships. There is definitely genetics involved somewhere in there too.
When I’m anxious and overwhelmed, I do one if two things: I snap and bark orders, or I’m silent and take on everything myself until I break down. Often times this can exacerbate my depression causing me to spiral. Both mental illnesses are difficult to deal with. My partner handles my breakdowns with such ease sometimes that, when I look back at an episode, I’m shocked. I know I can be a lot to handle. Being polyamorous, he doesn’t have to take them all on by himself every time. It’s draining, I know it is. However, we both have outlets other than each other, which takes a large amount of pressure off the relationship. Sometimes I’m not emotionally equipped to handle his down moments and he’s unable to handle mine. We don’t chastise each other when we reach out to other important people in our lives when these things happen.
Same thing applies to sexual needs. There are times where one of us want those needs met and the other isn’t emotionally or physically capable of providing for the other. It’s not either of our responsibility to meet those needs. Resenting someone for not being in the mood isn’t healthy or ethical. That’s where polyamory is also beneficial.
2. Communication is key
I’ve never been great at communicating. I think societal expectations when it comes to being a mom, as well as my experience with relationships and the way my mother viewed parenting, had me convinced that my needs and feelings were never important to voice. Polyamory forces you to communicate and set boundaries. Making compromises and explaining your feelings avoids hurt, heartbreak and disagreements. It’s a lot of trial and error when you aren’t used to it.
For example, if my partner is with someone else, I need to know what happened. I need honesty. I don’t care what he does or who he’s with but if I don’t know, my anxiety fills the missing gaps in my mind for me. This was the original boundary for me. When he was out with someone after this boundary was established, he would update me as things were happening (even after I fell asleep) and then passed out, leaving half of the story missing. Because he was out partying, I didn’t hear from him for the first four hours I was awake. By the time he had woken up, I had created so many scenarios in my head that I was impossible to talk to. A new boundary was established that I didn’t want to know anything until he could provide full context, the next day even. Trial and error.
The boundary communicated by my partner is that if I was with anyone besides him, he would like to remain unaware of not only the details, but the actual circumstance itself. Not because he didn’t care, but because he was aware of his own self confidence issues and insecurities. He was forming preventive measures for himself to not feel as though he wasn’t enough. Logically, he knows how I feel about him and he fully supports this lifestyle and how we run our relationship. His coping mechanisms for jealousy may differ from mine but in the grand scheme of things, they lead to the same result.
Communicating these boundaries have paved the way for communicating in other parts of our relationship. When I can feel a depression episode creeping it’s way in, I make sure to tell him. This allows him to be prepared for when it does happen. When he’s overwhelmed with work or social interactions and needs time to be by himself and decompress his brain, he let’s me know. Because of this we don’t have to guess what the other needs and we don’t take things personally.
3. We don’t feel smothered
I view codependance as a relationship killer. I think this is mostly from my own experience. If it works for you, that’s great. For my partner and I, we thrive on independence. So much so that we have our own rooms. We generally sleep in the same bed but sometimes we need our own space. The fact that we don’t box each other in makes spending time together less like something we have to do. It’s something we want to do.
There’s something about coming home after a night of being with someone else that makes me want to be around him more. Not that I didn’t have a good time with this other person. I’m not comparing. What’s that saying? “If you love something set it free. If it comes back it’s yours. If not, it was never meant to be.” While we don’t belong to each other per say, when I don’t feel boxed in, I don’t feel forced to feel these things. They just flow naturally.
4. Having a crush on someone isn’t a form of betrayal
In my personal opinion, I don’t think it’s human nature to be monogamous. Crushes are just a thing that happens whether it’s a personality trait or physical appearance. While I sometimes do things appearance wise that my partner finds attractive (Only if it makes me happy too), there will be lots of other women that will have a certain quality that I dont. AND THAT’S OKAY. Jealousy happens still, yes. I’m not denying that. It’s a mix of normal human emotions. How you handle it is what makes jealousy toxic. Coming to terms with that fact that I can’t be everything someone wants me to be has made a world of difference to both the pressure I put on myself and the flow of our relationship.
This is a topic I could write about for hours even though it’s something I’ve only discovered and started practicing within the last year. Our relationship, just like any traditional monogamous relationship, isn’t perfect. However, I’m happier than I have ever been. I feel as though I can say the same for my partner. Polyamory isn’t for everyone just like monogamy isn’t for me, but, I don’t think I’ll ever go back.
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Thanks for reading!